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“The Cowl Does Make The Monk”: Understanding the Emergence of Social Entrepreneurship in Times of Downturn

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Abstract

In order to contribute to the debate about social entrepreneurship, we take an empirical perspective and describe the phenomenon in Catalonia, Spain, during the financial crises of the early twenty-first century. For this aim, we conducted 43 in-depth interviews with social entrepreneurs, launched a web-based survey with 90 responses, and built a database with 347 organizations and/or ventures settled in Catalonia with an explicit social/environmental goal. The data show that many social/environmental initiatives emerged during the economic crisis, either as a self-employment alternative to unemployment, or as a commercial venture started by nonprofit organizations as a reaction to the reduction in public expense in this sector. In addition, the crisis fueled the emergence of ventures oriented to non-market exchange and social currencies. As a whole, we argue that this new reality can be conceptualized as the emergence of an unsettled Strategic Action Field where banks, business schools and public administrations alike promote the label of “social entrepreneurship” through awards and startup services, whereas other groups claiming the same social/environmental goals contest this market-oriented definition of the field.

Résumé

Afin de contribuer au débat entourant l’entrepreneuriat social, nous adoptons un point de vue empirique et décrivons le phénomène tel qu’observé en Catalogne en Espagne durant les crises financières du début du vingtième siècle. Nous avons à cette fin mené 43 entrevues détaillées en compagnie d’entrepreneurs sociaux, lancé une enquête Web à laquelle 90 personnes ont répondu et créé une base de données impliquant 347 organisations et entreprises de Catalogne, dont la mission est formellement sociale/environnementale. Les données démontrent que plusieurs initiatives sociales/environnementales ont vu le jour durant les crises économiques données, soit pour contrer au chômage en offrant des possibilités de travail autonome, soit pour réagir à la réduction des dépenses publiques dans le secteur en lançant des entreprises sociales au nom d’organismes sans but lucratif. De plus, les crises ont alimenté l’émergence d’entreprises axées sur les échanges non mercantiles et les devises sociales. Nous avançons que cette nouvelle réalité peut globalement être conceptualisée en tant que champ d’action stratégique (CAS) non défini émergent, où les banques, écoles de commerce et administrations publiques font la promotion de « l’entrepreneuriat social » par l’offre de récompenses et de services aux jeunes entreprises, tandis que d’autres groupes aux objectifs sociaux/environnementaux déclarés identiques contestent cette définition mercantile dudit champ.

Zusammenfassung

Als Beitrag zur Debatte über soziales Unternehmertum beschreiben wir aus einer empirischen Perspektive das Phänomen im spanischen Katalonien während der Finanzkrisen Anfang des 21. Jahrhunderts. Dazu führten wir 43 umfassenede Interviews mit Sozialunternehmern durch, starteten eine webbasierte Umfrage mit 90 Antworten und errichteten eine Datenbank mit 347 in Katalonien ansässigen Organisationen bzw. Unternehmen, die ein explizites soziales oder ökologisches Ziel verfolgen. Die Daten zeigen, dass während der Wirtschaftskrise zahlreiche soziale oder ökologische Initiativen entstanden, deren Selbständigkeit eine Alternative zur Arbeitslosigkeit darstellte oder die von gemeinnützigen Organisationen zwecks eines kommerziellen Unternehmens infolge der Reduzierung der öffentlichen Ausgaben in diesem Sektor gegründet wurden. Darüber hinaus entstanden aus der Krise heraus Unternehmen, die auf marktunabhängige Tausch- und Sozialwährungen ausgerichtet sind. Insgesamt argumentieren wir, dass diese neue Realität als die Entstehung eines instabilen strategischen Handlungsfeldes (Strategic Action Field, SAF) konzeptualisiert werden kann, in dem Banken, Handelsschulen sowie die öffentliche Verwaltung das Label „soziales Unternehmertum“ durch finanzielle Unterstützung und Gründerservices fördern, während andere Gruppen, die die gleichen sozialen oder ökologischen Ziele für sich beanspruchen, diese marktorientierte Definition des Feldes anfechten.

Resumen

Con el fin de contribuir al debate sobre el emprendimiento social, asumimos una perspectiva empírica y describimos el fenómeno en Cataluña (España), durante las crisis financieras de principios del siglo XXI. Con este objetivo, realizamos 43 entrevistas en profundidad a emprendedores sociales, lanzamos una encuesta en la web con 90 respuestas, y creamos una base de datos con 347 organizaciones y/o empresas instaladas en Cataluña con una meta explícita social/medioambiental. Los datos muestran que surgieron muchas iniciativas sociales/medioambientales durante la crisis económica, ya sea como una alternativa de autoempleo frente al desempleo, o como una empresa comercial iniciada por organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro como una reacción a la reducción del gasto público en este sector. Asimismo, la crisis alimentó el surgimiento de empresas orientadas a intercambios no de mercado y monedas sociales. Como un todo, argumentamos que esta nueva realidad puede ser conceptualizada como el surgimiento de un inestable Campo de Acción Estratégico (SAF, por sus siglas en inglés) en el que los bancos, las escuelas de negocios y las administraciones públicas promueven juntas la etiqueta de “emprendimiento social” mediante premios y servicios de puesta en marcha, mientras que otros grupos que reivindican las mismas metas sociales/medioambientales cuestionan esta definición del campo orientada al mercado.

Chinese

为对有关社会创业的争论作出贡献,我们采用了经验观点,同时介绍了西班牙加泰罗尼亚在二十一世纪早期的经济危机期间出现的现象。为此,我们对社会企业家进行了43次深入的访问,启动了基于web的调查并收到90个回复,同时构建了在加泰罗尼亚落户,拥有明确的社会/环境目标的347家组织和/或合资企业的数据库。数据表明,经济危机期间出现了许多社会/环境方案,无论是作为自营还是失业替代方案,或作为从非盈利组织开始的商业冒险,以应对这一领域公共支出的减少。此外,这一危机导致以非市场交换和社会货币为主的合资企业的出现。总体上,我们认为随着不稳定的战略行动领域 (SAF) 的涌现,这一新的现实会可以概念化,其中银行、商业学校和公共行政通过奖励和初创企业服务共同促进“社会创业”的标签,而其他群体则声明同一社会/环境目标,质疑这一以市场为主的领域定义。

Arabic

من أجل المساهمة في النقاش حول ريادة الأعمال الإجتماعية، نحن نأخذ منظور تجريبي و نقوم بوصف هذه الظاهرة في كاتالونيا، أسبانيا، خلال الأزمات المالية في أوائل القرن الحادي والعشرين. لهذا الهدف، أجرينا 43 مقابلة متعمقة مع رواد الأعمال الإجتماعيين، أجرينا إستطلاع رأي على شبكة الإنترنت يضم 90 رد، وأقمنا قاعدة بيانات تضم 347 منظمة و/ أو مشروع إستقر في كاتالونيا مع هدف إجتماعي/ بيئي واضح. تظهر البيانات أن العديد من المبادرات الإجتماعية/ البيئية ظهرت خلال الأزمة الإقتصادية، إما كعمل ذاتي حر بديل للبطالة، أو كمشروع تجاري بدأته منظمات غير ربحية كرد فعل على خفض النفقات العامة في هذا القطاع. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، أدت الأزمة إلى إزدياد ظهور مشاريع موجهة إلى التبادل الغير سوقي والعملات الإجتماعية. في مجملها، نرى أن هذا الواقع الجديد يمكن تصوره على أنه ظهور مجال عمل إستراتيجي غير مستقر (SAF) حيث تشجع البنوك، كليات إدارة الأعمال، الإدارات العامة على حد سواء تعزز التسمية “ريادة الأعمال الإجتماعية” من خلال الجوائز وخدمات بدء التشغيل، في حين أن المجموعات الأخرى التي تدعي نفس الأهداف الإجتماعية/ البيئية تتنافس في هذا التعريف الموجه نحو السوق في هذا المجال

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Change history

  • 22 August 2018

    The PDF version of this article was reformatted to a larger trim size.

Notes

  1. "Overall, CECOP-CICOPA Europe’s annual surveys point out that compared to conventional enterprises, worker and social cooperatives are more resilient in countries with a strong level of cooperative implantation and experience such as Spain, France and in some sectors in Italy."

  2. We conducted some interviews with representatives from associations, and we found that they did not generate commercial revenues; rather, they were funded by public resources and donations.

  3. When we presented our research project to the executive committee for obtaining their collaboration in the research, their main objection to collaborate with us was precisely that we were funded by the Spanish government.

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Funding

This research has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO—CSO2012-32635), and La Caixa Foundation (CAIXA13-01).

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Correspondence to José Luis Molina.

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Molina, J.L., Valenzuela-García, H., Lubbers, M.J. et al. “The Cowl Does Make The Monk”: Understanding the Emergence of Social Entrepreneurship in Times of Downturn. Voluntas 29, 725–739 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-017-9921-6

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